How much to pay for an RN degree?


So here's my situation. I have been accepted to a great nursing school but the tuition is high and scholarship opportunities are limited. I am hearing tons of stories where folks cannot find jobs and I'm wondering if this is going to be the rule for some time and if so, am I crazy to spend north of $50,000 for my degree? When I was taking prereqs, there was a huge shift at the end where all the classes were full and it seemed impossible to get in to anything b/c everybody wanted to be nurses. I know not everybody hacks it in the prereqs but I am wondering if this is a clue that the market is going to be saturated for years to come.


40 Posts

Is this for a BSN or ASN? How are the NCLEX pass rates for the school? I'm attending a public military college (I'm not in the corps, but it is a top rated disciplined university) and it will total about $15,000-20,000 for my ASN. What about finacial aid and the Pell Grant?


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Specializes in Home Care.

I refuse to pay big bucks to get my RN. I could be sitting in a private college right now paying close to $25k for an ADN. Why would I do that when I can go to my CC and pay around $7k for an ADN and get the same job? Plus if I go to that private college then my credits probably won't transfer into a public college when I go to complete my BSN.

I'd rather graduate with as little in student loans as possible.


887 Posts

I agree that sometimes the private colleges aren't worth it. However, they become options for people that don't have 4.0 GPA's that most of the public colleges require (at least in my area). I was going to a public college and not paying anything, but I knew I didn't have chance with my 3.3 gpa so I went to a private school. I got pretty good aid and it's not over 30K which I know is still a lot, but I can afford it. It's not the best school but it has a pass rated over 90 and over 100 students graduate every year so I'm certainly content. I COULD transfer to NYU (I have the gpa for it now) which has a great program with a great rep but I don't have great money.


82 Posts

Hey everyone, thanks for the great replies. I didn't want to, and won't, name the school, but it's a fairly prestigious school as opposed to a high-priced private school with large tuition and generous acceptance rates. I don't say that to brag or to diminish any other schools but just to provide clarification.

I had actually considered an associates program but at least in my area, they are very difficult to get into. Plus, as I pour over employment ads, I see more and more places who say 'bachelors preferred' or sometimes even require it. Also, given that I am a second degree student, it's hard to imagine spending two years in an associates program and graduate knowing that I will ultimately have to go back somewhere for my RN to BSN degree. Come to think of it, that may be a trend down the road, where its hard to get into those programs because the large contingent of associate degree folks are trying to get their BSN.

I am definitely grateful for being accepted into my program. Unfortunately, 'gratitude' does not pay student loan bills. I know that if I could work two jobs upon graduation, I could easily pay back my loans. However, if current trends hold, getting two jobs becomes a big IF. I know that if I turn down this place, I will likely NOT become a nurse, which is very unsettling to me. So despite my blessing, I feel like I am in a lose-lose position. I agree w/ some of the comments about not wanting to graduate with a ton of loans. Unfortunately, I am trying to balance that in my mind against the real possibility that, due to the steep competition for open school spots, I might otherwise not become a nurse if I turn down this spot.


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Specializes in Home Care.

Did you check out the BSN programs in your area for students who already have degrees? How much are they and how long is the wait list if there is one?

I honestly don't see the point in going to an expensive school regardless of whether its "prestigious" or not. What advantage do you believe this school is going to have for you in the long run?

Did you look at what your monthly student loan payments are going to be just on that $50K? Do you have loans out from your first degree?

Just for the $50k you're looking at almost $600 a month in loan payments for 10 years.

Its not easy paying for student loans when life happens.


82 Posts

I'd agree that I wouldn't do this just for the sake of going to a so-called "prestigious" nursing program. It's more that I feel that my chances of becoming an RN are slim if I try to go to a local school because of how steep the competition is. Acceptance rates are around 20-25%. And it's not that my GPA is lacking because it's really pretty good.

I'd also agree that the notion of $600 in loans is hard to stomach, especially when life happens as you say. So I'm really not sure what to do. It seems, sadly, that I can either pay up and shackle myself to loans or give up and take my chances on a local place. It's just that if I do the latter, I need to accept the fact that I may not get in.

The only saving grace may be that they are supposed to give us the amounts we're getting for scholarships here shortly. But, even with that, there is still a ton of tuition that wouldn't be covered.

I'd also add that I spoke to a career services person who said that graduates last year had a very difficult time finding employment and employer attendance is down at career fairs. A local hospital said they are not doing very much in new grad hiring now.

This decision is no fun!!!


1 Article; 2,188 Posts

Specializes in Home Care.

I'm glad you're thinking this over seriously before jumping in with both feet.

Since the employment situation is dire at the moment for new grads then it wouldn't hurt you to wait to get into the cheaper, local college/university. Just imagine graduating from that expensive school only to not find a job.

You can talk to the nursing program administrators and find out exactly what their selection process is and find out about how long it will take you to get in. You can also find out what the placement rate was for the last group of grads. Talk directly to the nursing program staff about this, not the academic advisers.

Who knows how things will be in another year from now, things could be worse, better or about the same for this lousy economy and job outlook.

Personally, I'm covering my butt. I'm scheduled to start LPN-RN program in May. But I was just offered a temporary job in a similar field to my old job that if I play my cards right can lead into a very good paying career doing something I like. If the job pans out to be full-time with great benefits then I may consider postponing RN school.

Back up plan, always have a back up plan.

omoolu, BSN

51 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 10 years experience.

After reading all the above responses I wonder if some regions of the country are faring better/worse than others. Where is everyone from? Which areas are being hit harder this field?


82 Posts

I'm just at a loss. I went ahead and put down my deposit last fall and I could hear about scholarship awards any day now. But I am coming to grips w/ the idea that I may have to call them and give up my spot. It's a tough call. My credit is still on the mend and I am unsure how to proceed. Plus with all the commentary here and elsewhere about the absolute shortage of jobs in many places, the last thing I need is upper-middle five figures of debt and no job.

However, when I see things like what happened in Haiti this week, I can't express how much I would like to be there and helping in a medical context. Yet I know you need experience to do that.

Has anyone paid a small fortune for their degree only to regret it? Has anyone paid a lot and felt it was worth it?

Specializes in Medical Surgical/Addiction/Mental Health.

I am attending a private university for my BSN. It is an accelerated program, and with a 55K price tag. I don’t regret my decision. I LOVE the program and I’m learning a lot. Here is what I find interesting. People always talk negatively about private schools and their costs. I have 14 people in my cohort. That is all they accept once per year. The youngest is 27 and the oldest is 54. So, I don’t have younger students in my class discussing their drama-filled lives or texting in the middle of lecture. Sure a community college is cheaper, but I believe you get what you pay for. Also, if people think that it doesn’t matter where they attend school so as long as they become an RN, they are mistaking. It matters where you go to school, regardless of the profession. I seriously don’t think Harvard grads have problems securing employment. As to the payments on 50K of school debt, it’s a lot less than $600/month. Go to the federal student loan website. It has a lot of useful information. After graduating and consolidating my loans, my payments will be $445/month on about 115K.

Anyways…I know it seems confusing, but if I were accepted to a prestigious school for a second-degree option, there would be nothing for me to think about!

Good luck to you!!!!


52 Posts

Hi want2bearn,

I'm about to embark on taking a small fortune to go to nursing school. I will be going to an out of state second degree clinical nurse leader MSN program. Before anyone else says anything, I applied from ADN, BSN, and second degree BSN, and MSN programs. In the end you have to decide for yourself if it's worth it. This is probably the only opportunity for me to be a nurse so I'm gladly taking the chance. Even though I may be paying my loans back for most of my life, that's something I'm willing to do since being a nurse is that important to me. You will find similar posts on this topic where some people will try to discourage from going into the program since it's so expensive. Like I said in the end this is something that you will have to decide for yourself. I would try talking to the financial aid office on Tuesday to see what your options are. I myself plan on either getting in state residency for part of the time I'm in school and also pursuing assistantships. I will also be searching for scholarships as well as they are out there if you're willing to write the essays for them and do the work. You can do this, others have done it if you decide to take this path. Do what's best for you and your nursing dreams.